For the Victims of Cyber Bullies

This is in response to a comment on the post ‘Cyber Bullying is 24/7…’ The comment was that the post itself was essentially useless for people who’ve been bullied. Fair point. It is. Because as a victim you actually know how cyber bullies operate, you know what their weapons of choice are, you know how damaging the effects can be. In truth, nothing I’ve posted has been really targeting the victims of cyber bullying. ‘Tis true- not intentional, but true.

The reason for this is that my intention was to get to that point a little further down the track. But if necessity dictates, then it must be addressed immediately.

My research into cyber bullying showed me how shrouded in secrecy the whole phenomenon is. That victims of bullying, traditional- style and cyber, suffer in silence. Fear of further reprisal and lack of faith in any form of justice or help keeps their mouths shut. Their secrecy, in turn, allows bullies to continue.

My initial purpose of Destroying Avalon was to blow the whistle. It was to create a book that made people shake their heads in disbelief and say “Is that really happening?” I wanted to increase awareness about cyber bullying. I wanted teachers, parents, and decision makers to see how serious the situation is and say “What can we do it about it?” I wanted education programs in place, measures taken to reduce the ‘anonymity’ the internet provides by preventing access to sites with a web-based email account. I wanted parents to put in place tighter restrictions on their kids’ mobile phone access, I wanted to draw attention to it and work towards a solution. Because at the moment there isn’t one, this thing has the potential to explode. We are already witnessing its devastating effects,

But of course you, the victim, know all this. You know that cyber bullying is relentless, that it is 24/7, that there seems no escape from it. You want to know what to do, how to handle it, how to recover from it.

I don’t have all the answers, but I have some suggestions that might help you now, while we wait for the decision makers to create their policies and plans.

1. Speak Out: You must find someone to confide in. You cannot handle this on your own. Bullies operate because of your fear, you give them power by keeping your mouth shut. Find someone to confide in, a parent, sibling, friend, teacher- with that person you can discuss ways of handling the situation. Also just talking about it can lighten the load somewhat- knowing there is someone watching your back. You’re not alone.

If there is no one you can trust get on the internet (ironic isn’t it) and go to a web site like

www.kidshelp.com.au

www.reachout.com.au

They provide confidential services for situations exactly like this.

2. Do not give anyone access to your passwords or provide people you don’t trust with your phone number. Be careful which websites you post personal information on. Do not open emails or read text messages from unidentified names and numbers.

If you are in a chat room or forum and someone is sledging you do not FLAME back. Leave the room- go into another one, do not engage in their taunts.

3. If it’s too late-you’ve already done this and you’re in the middle of being cyber bullied you must save any threatening or disparaging emails, web pages or texts. You will need evidence to prove what they are doing. And rest assured the school will want it, and if it’s happening after hours (as it so often is) the police will want to see them too. Depending on the severity of the threats and the frequency of them several different punishments are in place. Schools usually look at suspension- leading to exclusion, and counselling of both victim and perpertrator. The police have the power to impose fines and jail time -depending again on circumstance.

4. Follow Up Care; When it’s over- and it will end- speak to someone (that parent, friend etc) about how you feel now. Are you still suffering the effects of it- and it can linger. If so seek professional help, counselling can work to put things back into perspective, to talk through issues that may have arisen as a result.

Finally, if this is happening to you and I’m so sorry it is, because I do know how hideous it makes a body feel, know this. It won’t go on forever. It will end. One day you will look back on this whole experience and remember how awful it was- but you will be okay. Just don’t let it continue. Take the power back. Stop them now.

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